Employers in California can transfer managers or executives into the country from affiliated offices located in foreign countries by using the L-1A non-immigrant classification. This same classification can also be used by foreign companies that do not have offices in the U.S. to send a manager or executive to the U.S. to establish a location. The relevant USCIS form is I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

To qualify for the classification, the employer must, either currently or in the planned near future, be doing business in the U.S. and at least one other country as an employer. The employer must also have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. Doing business is a term of art meaning that the company is regularly, continuously and systematically providing goods or services. The mere presence of an office or agent is not sufficient.

The employee for whom the L-1A classification is sought must have been at work for a qualifying organization for a period of one year during the three years prior to his or her proposed admission to the U.S. and must also seek to enter the country for the same organization. The employee must intend to work in a managerial or executive capacity once he or she enters the country. Managerial means overseeing and supervising the work of lower-level employees or the management of an essential function of the company. Executive means that the employee can make important decisions for the company with little or no oversight.

Individuals and companies in California that are seeking to make use of the L-1 classification or other temporary visas might want to meet with an attorney. An attorney who practices immigration law may be able to help by gathering supporting documentation and evidence for the USCIS or by helping the client determine the proper visa application to pursue. An attorney might draft and file required documents or communicate with the USCIS on behalf of the client.